Edwards’ Ghent at head of class for CU athletics
EDWARDS, Colorado – There were plenty of unproven faces among the University of Colorado coaches who were at Etown in Edwards on Wednesday.
New basketball coaches Linda Lappe and Tad Boyle are trying to prove they deserve their jobs. Four years into his tenure, football coach Dan Hawkins is trying to hang on to his job.
But ski team coach Richard Rokos isn’t new or unproven – evidenced by the fact that he has won five national championships in his 20 years with the Buffs.
Homegrown talent helps a lot.
“This is the first place I look,” Rokos said Wednesday in Edwards, where coaches met with boosters during a stop on a statewide tour. “Ski Club Vail, Summit County, Steamboat. A majority of our athletes come from those three places.”
Erika Ghent, 21, of Edwards, was a big reason why Rokos and the Buffs finished second in the NCAA championships this year.
Ghent, a 2006 graduate of Battle Mountain High School and a Ski and Snowboard Club Vail veteran, had one of the most successful freshman years ever for a CU women’s alpine skier. She earned second-team All-American honors by finishing sixth in the slalom at the NCAAs at Steamboat Springs in March. She had eight top-10 finishes in 14 total races.
“I feel really good about (the season),” Ghent said. “I feel good about how our team performed. Going into college racing, I didn’t know what to expect. It was new experience for me. But I was happy with how everything went.”
At the NCAAs, the team finished second to the University of Denver for the third straight year, which is a bit disappointing for CU. The team has won 17 national championships in its history.
Ghent knows about that history. Her father, Brad, was a member of the team in the ’70s under coach Bill Marolt, and was a part of four national titles. He skied with people like Billy Kidd, Mike Lafferty and Moose Barrows.
“The legacy of that program is so strong and means so much to those guys and all of those who came after us,” Brad Ghent said. “Skiing has been pretty much everything in my life from that point in 1971 when I first showed up in Boulder. All the opportunities that I’ve had have been related to skiing.”
Now his daughter is continuing that legacy. With Ghent, Katie Hartman of Breckenridge, and Carolina Nordh, of Sweden, returning next year, the women’s alpine Buffs are well positioned to continue their success.
While football and basketball get a ton of attention, the skiing program is an “anchor” of CU sports, said Athletic Director Mike Bohn.
“It’s an anchor in a lot of ways become it’s always had prestige and has always been competitive,” Bohn said. “Our ski program represent in so many ways Colorado. It represents a freshness and a vivacious outdoor competitive environment that says ‘Colorado’ to us.”
Hawkins went 3-9 last year, and has a 16-33 record in four seasons in Boulder. Bohn said this isn’t a do or die year for Hawkins, but it’s a “big season” for CU football.
“But they are all big,” Bohn said. “All the games are big. Dan understands the challenges he has, but he’s always very proud of his football team and excited about what they’re doing because they have more depth now. We are extremely optimistic and our expectation are high.”
The players voted to take their individual names off their jerseys for the upcoming season. The jerseys will read “Colorado” on both the front and back.
“Our task really is to clean it up a litle bit,” Hawkins said. “Get a little momentum, get a little confidence and all that stuff changes. And I think our guys are up to that task.”
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 970-748-2929 or email@example.com.